When did you study at LCDS? Why did you decide to study contemporary dance?
I trained at LCDS between 1994 -1998. Although I had watched contemporary dance, I didn’t discover it as a technical dance form until I was 17 years old, and I was about to go down either a musical theatre path or to university to study law or history. Once I saw how contemporary dance could combine art, music, politics, theatre and dance, I knew the only school I wanted to go to was LCDS. The history of the institution and its combination of vocational and academic studies were ideal for me.
Tells us a little bit about what happened since! What are the key moments in your career?
I danced professionally for 5 years with companies in Poland, France, Germany and the US and during that time began to make my own solo work, winning some awards and performing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. After almost giving up, I returned to the UK and settled in Birmingham, committing myself to becoming a choreographer. I worked a lot with very diverse communities, and built up my funding and touring networks, making research a big part of my process. Highlights have been dancing on opera house stages in Poland and Germany, embedded with the British Infantry, learning how you train the body to prepare for war, having my first large-scale work premiere at Birmingham Hippodrome, and touring internationally. Really though, the highlight for me, is that dance is part of my life every single day.
What did you take away from your creative education? What lessons did you carry with you through your career?
LCDS gave me a really strong discipline actually - one needs to be rigorous physically each day, and one needs to be rigorous with your ideas and the craft of choreography. LCDS trained me to be constantly inquisitive, I particularly enjoyed my lectures on music history (with Jeremy Barlow), body therapy (with the incredible Pitt Geddes and Suzanne Lahausen) and gender studies (with Joan Scanlon). I sometimes even hear my ballet teacher (the late Ronnie Emblem) in my ear telling me to pull up and perform as I do my barre-work!
How has dance shaped your life? What were the challenges you had to overcome to keep dancing or to remain in the dance industry?
Dance really is my life! I feel so lucky that dance has been vital to every part of my life, and every day. There have been so many challenges along the way - first of all survival, crisis of confidence, then securing funding and regular support was tough. Recently, having a family was/ is very challenging, but overall, it’s a fabulous career and deeply meaningful in so many ways.
What are your hopes for the dance community? What will it look like to be a dance artist in the future?
I think dance is a really relevant and vital art from for the modern age. It is both accessible through its immediacy, as well as demanding that audiences think and feel - it can illicit empathy. I feel hopeful that dance has a lot to say about the world and can help heal and create new ideas.